Thinking about a Military 5-ton Truck

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Ted DuPuis, Jan 30, 2020.

  1. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    It's no secret that I like weird and unusual vehicles. The odder it is, the more attracted I am to it in many cases. But I also like capability and, as you all know, I do some unusual things to make up for living the first 20 years of my life in the concrete jungle (New York City).

    The old military trucks (deuce-and-a-halves and 5-tons) are naturally appealing and always have been. In fact, when I bought the semi truck a few years ago, I had also been considering a military 5-ton. At the time, I decided that I wanted the semi for a few reasons - one being having a top speed higher than 55, another being having the extra space of a sleeper cab. Basically something that could, potentially, have a use actually driving on a distance longer than around town. So, I did the "practical" decision and bought the Kenworth.

    The Kenworth wasn't a very good truck and I was happy to see it go. That said, it had its own level of fun and the kids miss it. I, too, have had a hankering for another larger truck for a while. I've also come to realize that I just don't drive long distances hardly ever anymore, so top speed is really not a consideration so long as it can actually drive on the highway (even at a lower speed). And while the sleeper was fun for the kids to sit in back of (they actually took a lot of naps while we drove the thing around the backroads), these days I think a wide front seat would be plenty because, again, I've established a vehicle of this nature isn't used for traveling purposes.

    But I have things I'm doing like clearing trees on my property, potentially building a hangar, picking up random pieces of equipment, and all of those are things for which a military truck with winches (and some have booms on them) could be useful, and driving an old 6x6 on backroads would be the kind of fun thing my kids and I miss doing. Even several years later, all three of them talk about the semi truck and say they wish that we didn't sell it. Those drives made some big impressions. Plus, it would check another tick off the vehicle bucket list. Cargo capacity in terms of having a utility bed I really don't care about. I have a pickup truck and trailer(s) for that. What I'm interested in more would be the 6x6 capability they all have, definitely want winch(s) for pulling things (like trees) out of the ground. Having a boom crane would undoubtedly be useful for projects I'm doing.

    I know a few things about those trucks, but really not a ton (pun intended) so maybe some folks can help enlighten, especially those who've got military background and know how these were actually used.

    My thinking on what I want and some questions:

    - Manual transmission: I'm Ted. 'nuff said. Seems like the newer ones (from 1990 onwards) had Allison automatics. That's fine if that's your thing, it's not mine.
    - Winches: It seems that certain 5-tons had a 20k lb winch on front and 45k lb winch on the back. I would definitely want those. Although we have a bulldozer, there are a few trees where I think that would help
    - Cargo bed: Definitely don't want that. It doesn't help with anything I want to do
    - 5th wheel vs. Boom crane: It looks like most of the 5-tons had a 5th wheel on them for towing trailers of some sort. I don't own any 5th wheel trailers, but having the ability to buy one could be useful given my other hobby of picking up old heavy equipment (something I could see using this truck for). I sort of view this as neutral, but the boom trucks do seem to fetch a premium
    - Multi fuel engine: some of these I note are considered "Multi fuel" engines, which I understand to be "Will run on anything flammable you put in the tank" while some are not, which I understand to mean "Diesel or JP-8 fuel". Is that understanding correct?
    - 5-ton over Deuce-and-a-half: My thought is a 5-ton for a couple reasons. For one, given one of my intended uses (winches on trees), the 5-tons seem to have that while the deuces don't, and the 5-tons also are heavier, so in other words more capability for doing something like pulling a tree out with a winch. It also seems like the vast majority of deuces are equipped with no winches and a cargo bed of some sort, which again, not what I want, and lower towing capacity on the deuces should I want to haul bigger stuff.
    - 10 wheel vs 6 wheel: Seems like the ones configured for hauling trailers are mostly 10 wheel while the others are 6-wheel, including boom trucks. I think I'm more neutral on this. 6 wheels would be nice since fewer tires to worry about, but 10 wheels would have more traction and more weight capacity if hauling a trailer. For this I figure it's just a matter of what it comes with.

    I notice there are all of the different Mxxx variants, and some people list them as just the Mxxx variant vs. just a 5-ton or Deuce-and-a-half when searching. What I don't know is enough to know where one Mxxx is better than another. I'm thinking no (so long as it's in the appropriate category), it's just configurations.

    Timeframe for buying one? Not a clue. Probably when the right thing comes up after I get a bit more educated on what I want. I'm probably not wanting to buy something this quarter just due to other expenses unless "the right truck" pops up for sale at the right price.

    Alright PoA, go to town. Any of you selling yours? ;)
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2020
  2. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You need to divest yourself of silly toys and move to Belize! In Germany the license office screwed up and issued me a 2.5 - 5 ton license. Never even driven one before. :D
     
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  3. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Why Belize?

    Previous training hasn't precluded me from purchasing vehicles in the past. Example: Kenworth. :)
     
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  4. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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  5. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Cheap cost of living, beautiful beaches, low crime, and they speak English.
     
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  6. Jim K

    Jim K Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I run a couple M915 semi tractors on the farm, so I have some familiarity. There's a forum named "steel soldiers" which you may have found that is an invaluable resource. 2.5 ton trucks are pretty much gone from government auction; and last I looked the 5 tons were as well and the newer LMTV which is still basically a 5 ton, but a cab over design, and not as cool looking. I think you have to go clear back to the 2.5 tons to get a manual transmission, but I'm not 100% on that.

    The 5 ton is a big truck, but if you went joyriding in a KW, that shouldn't bother you. They're slow as you know, and generally underpowered if you want to really tow something. The multi fuel engines are cool, but even more anemic. They were only put in the 2.5s, and only for a while. A lot of guys burn used motor oil in the diesels.

    Here's my farm trucks:
    IMG_20160920_144012518.jpg
     
  7. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Neat truck and all, but not quite what I'm looking for.

    I've been to Belize and I did like it there. Who knows what we'll do when we're ready to retire. My friends who've retired in Central America all love it (Belize, Costa Rica, or Mexico).

    There are definitely 5-tons out there with manuals in 6x6 form, but you're talking something that's 40+ years old in most cases. I'm looking at probably getting something not direct from a government auction (you're right it seems that the deuces and 5-tons are mostly gone from there, and everything I've seen has an automatic). Talking early 80s or earlier. For my uses, going back to even the 60s is fine.

    What you say on the multi-fuel makes sense. This isn't a big deal for me, especially if the diesel-only makes more horsepower. The reality of a diesel is that it'll run on about anything flammable, the difference is the fuel system's ability to handle the lower lubricity of non-diesel fuels. I recall that military diesels had heavier duty fuel pumps designed to be able to run JP8 for the "single fuel" military requirements.

    Anemic, also not a big deal for the uses here. And yeah, I went joy riding in a K100, so this would just be another form of joy ride. The non-standard shifting pattern is even better.

    Thanks for the link on that forum, I may do some checking out there. I had not heard of it before.
     
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  8. TCABM

    TCABM Cleared for Takeoff

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    M809 (no winch), M813 (w/winch) is the base you’re looking for. From the M839 forward, it’s an auto transmission in the 5-tons.

    From the base models, you’ll be looking at variants with cargo beds, dump beds, recovery vehicle (wrecker) configurations.

    Pretty certain the 809/813s are also manual steering like the M39.
     
  9. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    So looking into this further, it looks like the M809/813 also have the Cummins 855 engine, while the M39s are still 5-tons, but with a shorter nose and different engine, with some being multi-fuel.

    Are there benefits to the 809/813 vs. the 39 (other than obviously newer)? The Cummins 855 would have the benefit of being a good, stout engine for which parts are easy enough to come by.
     
  10. TCABM

    TCABM Cleared for Takeoff

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    Lots of commonality between the M39 and M809s in the chassis and non-power train components.

    The M39 series has some variants that are gasoline powered and not diesel powered.
     
  11. G-Man

    G-Man Line Up and Wait

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    It's been just more than two hours since Ted's first post, so I presume he's bought one by now?
    Ted - with loving curiosity, I'm curious: What have you "thought about" purchasing and then decided "Nah, that's foolish." Anything? Ever? ;-)
     
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  12. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    In a way I get it. The most interesting vehicle I ever drove for a period of time was a 1960 Plymouth Savoy, it was the bottom of the line Plymouth large sedan. Slant-6, three on the tree, manual steering and brakes, manual everything, no radio, single speed wipers, no washers, etc. It did have the optional heater (Imagine that, a heater being optional), but other than that it was very basic. And it was very satisfying to drive.

    While I was away at college, Dad had it "restored." Sadly, the 225 six was dumped for a 440 V8, the manual transmission for a 727 automatic, he added air conditioning, power brakes, power steering, etc. After that I hardly drove it as it was no longer interesting. It had become just another car, and the shop wasn't very good as well and it was forever plagued with gremlins when before it had been anvil reliable.

    Oh well.
     
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  13. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I've driven Deuces, and ridden in 5 tons. But I've never seen a 5 ton that didn't have an automatic, and we are talking mid '80's here. Generally, Deuces were troop and supply haulers, where as the 5 tons were heavy cargo. It you were taking lots and lots of ammo with you, it was probably going on a 5 ton.
     
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  14. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie En-Route

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  15. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Haven't bought one yet, wait a few days. ;)

    And yes, I have... or at least I've deferred or altered purchase.

    Good example right there. Another one would be a horse (also discussed in that thread). I've thought about buying/adopting a horse a few times, but thus far not. Probably going to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

    Another one that comes to mind is a bus. I don't think I ever started a thread on it, but I've been thinking about getting a bus for a while. Part of that is looking at the fact that for some of the travel we want to do as the kids get older, an RV is in our future. We'd not do a little Class B or Class C RV, we'd be going Class A diesel pusher - IOW a bus.

    So for a while I was browsing around at used, specifically older buses, especially given my tendency to lean towards manual transmissions (which is hard to find, and mostly available on older buses).

    I still think that an RV is in our future, and we may decide to do a conversion ourselves. However I think more likely will be that we buy an existing Class A of some sort and in some form and then make whatever changes we want to make to it.
     
  16. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    Late 80's I was driving 5 ton dump trucks that were 10 wheel, Manual transmission, Multi-fuel, and had a Winch on them. Later we went to the 6 Wheel, Diesel Automatics. Drove some of the 2-1/2 ton Cargo Trucks a bit also, they were manuals as well and pretty sure were multi fuel, I don't think they had winches on them. Don't know have much more than that to offer, never drove a 5th wheel version. Did get licensed it a 10 ton dump truck for a short period of time.

    Brian
     
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  17. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    If going the 5 ton route look for a M816 Wrecker. Seen a few on the private side. We had a number of trucks at a small military history museum I helped with, but the 816 could do it all. But why stop at 5 tons. I think you really need a M123 10 ton to get things done properly. It was a blast to drive.
     
  18. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    The M123 does look appealing, although it'd need the diesel. I wouldn't want something like that with a gas engine. And a V8 diesel is... largely wrong. Also looks like those were really made for hauling trailers rather than the "doing it all".
     
  19. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    The M123 we had came standard with a Mack diesel. It was a bear.
    FYI: The 816 wrecker was the "do it all" one not the 123.
     
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  20. -KLB-

    -KLB- Pre-takeoff checklist

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    At least as far as the M35A2 deuce and a half, multifuel implies that if needed, it will run gasoline for a few hundred miles before it locks up. It will also run quite a range of things closer to diesel with generally less, to no impact on life. Military service sometimes finds those compromises acceptable. Personally, I would just look at a multifuel engine as more likely to happily accept up to 20% (somewhat arbitrary limit) filtered waste oil as lubrication to make up for the lack of sulphur in modern diesel.
     
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  21. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    I think this is really for Mrs. T. DuPuis...to go with the 'dozer. Fess up Ted.

    Be careful!
    You'll get Ted going and he'll start posting threads with titles like "Thinking About XYZ; Asking for a Friend" Who knows where that'll lead :eek:

    I think between @Ted DuPuis and @timwinters we pretty well have the full spectrum acquire-to-divest covered when it comes to thinking about "stuff". :D
     
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  22. Nick Pilotte

    Nick Pilotte Filing Flight Plan

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    Ted, as a fellow car guy with an addiction to the odd, you need to log off POA for a couple days, go read all of the Steel Soldiers forum. Be prepared, there can be some unusual cats on there, but if you want a former .mil vehicle up to and including a tank, that is your big resource. You will find the dealers where you buy turnkey, milsurp auction houses that you can trust, and parts sources as well as manuals and SMEs on each model. Read there for 4 days, come back here and post pictures of your new old ride. And remember, if you buy one that doesn’t leak, it’s out of oil.

    Edit. You need to look at HEMTTs and such too.
     
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  23. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I remember when upscale car ads (both new and used) would say things like, "R&H, WSW, ..." (radio and heater, white sidewall tires).
     
  24. IK04

    IK04 Pattern Altitude

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    There is a dude here in Central Texas who buys 5-Ton and 2 1/2 Ton trucks and removes the double rear axles and puts a pickup bed on the shortened frame.

    They will almost fit through most drive throughs...
     
  25. Brad Z

    Brad Z Final Approach

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    Will this steel soldier be the chase vehicle for your balloon?
     
  26. TCABM

    TCABM Cleared for Takeoff

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    I’m reaching deep in the recesses of my M35 knowledge, but I seem to recall the gas multifuel needs a minimum, as @Sac Arrow would say, admixture with oil...not plain jane petrol. I don’t remember if that is in the operator or maintenance manual, but I believe there was a table that spelled it out.

    I don’t remember if there was a caution or note related to mixing mogas with diesel or not.

    I believe there were also some interval changes recommended for the fuel filter, too. It’s been a long time though, and I may be getting that confused with some of the gen sets we had that were multifuel.
     
  27. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Good info on what the multi-fuel engine really means, and that makes more sense than anything. Yes, sometimes the military will make severe compromises on reliability if it gets the mission done. Makes sense for that role. I do think I like the idea of the 855 Cummins as an engine better between more power and the huge number of them out there, and thus good support. I'd prefer a Cat engine (@NealRomeoGolf do I get commission every time I say that? ;) ) but a good 14L I6 Cummins would be just fine. The Kenworth had a Cummins L10 which was beyond anemic. In retrospect, I suspect it had a bad/seized turbo and not making boost.

    Yes, I've seen the modified bobber M35s. They look cool, but not what I'd want. Remember that there's some practical use to me for the winches and potentially for the boom.

    While it could be, no, that's not the intent.
     
  28. Jim K

    Jim K Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The m931/939 was the model I was more familiar with as they were on the auctions when I was buying my 915s. They had the small Cummins. I was unaware the earlier 5ts had 855s and manuals.... and they look better.....

    I bet the NTC400 from a M915 would bolt right into a M809.....hmmmm......
     
  29. Jim K

    Jim K Pre-takeoff checklist

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    For the ultimate weird, over the top truck, there's always the M916
    -NTC400
    - winch
    -6x6
    -5th wheel
    - weird, rare, obsolete CAT 16 speed air shift manual with a centrifugal clutch
    1486894_6002_161_0001.jpg
     
  30. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    That M916 looks like it'd mostly fit the bill, having a winch and being 6x6. Plus gets me the "can tow anything" capability having a pintle hook and the 5th wheel. Negatives include the standard road-use (at least apparently so) tires vs. the all-terrain tires that are more what I'd want. I think the 5-ton is still a better fit.
     
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  31. Jim K

    Jim K Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I wanted a 916 in the worst way, but the 5th wheel articulates side to side, and that plus the 6x6 makes the 5th wheel plate like 24" higher than a standard tractor, which wouldn't be great with grain hoppers. Plus we're limited to 80,000 in IL, and that winch and front axle would eat a lot of that.

    I agree that a 5 ton makes more sense, just thought you'd appreciate it. The CAT transmission was interesting in its own right. The army was burning up so many centrifugal clutches (due to drivers not keeping the rpms high enough) they put recording "tachographs" in that record time, speed, and rpm on a little paper disc.

    I've seen a number of 5 tons and also the 915/916 etc that have been retrofitted with the big off road singles instead of regular duals...I believe it's just a bolt on swap.

    Im jealous. I've been trying to justify a 6x6 for years.
     
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  32. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    What about a 1960's FWD Wrecker 6x6. Not the military vibe but pretty cool.
     
  33. Craig

    Craig Line Up and Wait

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    The museum I used to be involved with, had a tank retriever for moving the big stuff.... 848 cu in gas motor with a huge Zenith 1 barrel carb, and the tow capacity was listed at around 125,000 pounds, off pavement. Top speed was about 52 mph.
     
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  34. cgrab

    cgrab Pattern Altitude

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    Go with an FMTV truck. A couple of highlights are the single tires as opposed to the dual'; some hae 4 doors and of course, the knuckle boom. Some are rigged so the front winch can be routed under the chassis to pull from the back.
     
  35. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Well, just because I post a thread doesn't mean I'll buy it immediately. One day? Sure. But for several reasons today is not an ideal time.

    Do you have a link to an example? Doing some Googling I'm not seeing anything that quite looks like what I want. I don't really want something that just looks like a tow truck.

    Interesting vehicles that look like they'd fit a lot of what I want. But looks like automatics, and I'm sure the resale is going to be higher on those than I want to pay.
     
  36. TCABM

    TCABM Cleared for Takeoff

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    Pretty sure that’ll have to be a conversion on most of the pre-FMTV series.
     
  37. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I actually got Ted thinking about a surplus M113, which would be more mobile than a wheeled truck in the mud. I don't know if it has the pulling power needed for removing stumps though. I got to drive one a couple times before we transitioned to the Bradleys.
     
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  38. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    A tank or other similar type vehicle definitely has interest to me. It also would require an appropriately large vehicle to tow it.

    Like a 5-ton.

    So the 5-ton may result in getting a tank. ;)
     
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  39. gkainz

    gkainz Final Approach

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  40. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    If you can find one, a M561 Gama Goat will give you hours of fun and is diesel, 6x6, and amphibious.